Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Jones...WHO in the HELL?

Who in the hell are the Jones?
why are we keeping up with them?
“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased”

I never met these Jones and cannot understand why folks want to keep up with them!! For myself, I can only speak from my perspective, and let me be correct it’s about lifestyle and choice. Personally, I cannot afford it. I have not always been this way. For me, flea markets are a blessing from God himself. I like thrift stores and discount shops. Even if I could afford it, I could not see myself paying $500.00 for anything that is not a necessity just to be down, or in the loop. I refuse to pay a lot for this muffler. Its about practicing frugality, and still come out looking stylish!

Those who suffer from this Jones Syndrome. are those want to project a particular image. Why? Shopping is an expensive habit. For me, in the African American community, I find many will spend when they do not have it or before they get it. We are the number one consumers in the nation. Why? I never met the Jones and really do not care to know who they are unless they are willing to adopt me.

Some of our young black men are willing to sell drugs, rob, kill, steal and destroy one another to get at fashion, to get at women. I see rappers like lil Wayne; his teeth have to be worth $100,000 in his mouth. His mouth alone could wipe my bad debt away and have enough for a vacation for my entire family! And I love me some lil Wayne….Some of our young women are either exploited or even willing to prostitute themselves for a Gucci bag or the latest. Its sad. Why the need to cover oneself in material?

“Got 30down at the bottom, 30 more at the top, all invisible set in little ice cube blocks, if I could call it a drink I call it a smile on the rocks, you call out a price, I call it a lot, I got platinum and white gold, traditional gold, I’m changing grillz everyday like Jay change clothes”
Nelly “Grillz”

Are we that vain we go through any lengths to keep up an image for people who could careless about us? “A recent study by Essence Magazine showed that African American women alone spend $7.5 billion annually on beauty products. In an industry that is estimated at $80 billion, $7.5 billion may not seem like much, however, African-American women shell out 80 percent more money on cosmetics and twice as much on skin care products than the general market. That difference is largely due to the fact that African-American women sample more products to find the ones that are most effective on their skin as the majority of the consumers are left feeling unsatisfied.[1]” That is a lot of make up and hair products. Can you imagine the cost of the other upkeep? Many still left dissatisfied.

“Man I promise, I'm so self conscious
That's why you always see me with at least one of my watches
Rollies and Pasha's done drove me crazy
I can't even pronounce nothing, pass that Versace!
Then I spent 400 bucks on this
Just to be like nigga you ain't up on this!
And I can't even go to the grocery store
Without some ones that’s clean and a shirt with a team
It seems we living the American dream
But the people highest up got the lowest self esteem
The prettiest people do the ugliest things
For the road to riches and diamond rings
We shine because they hate us, floss cause they degrade us
We trying to buy back our 40 acres
And for that paper, look how low we a'stoop
Even if you in a Benz, you still a nigga in a coop/coupe

KAYNE WEST “All Falls Down"

This materialistic mentality has a great deal to do with attitudes and behaviors towards spending. In my opinion, hip hop not only highlights and glamorizes fashion, allowing listeners to draw conclusions and parallels between what is “whack” and what is considered corny (i.e. not up to the latest style). This has gotten to the point where teens have been able to use clothing as a way to represent a certain gang affiliation, and also compete among one another. Drawing parallels between the children who have and do not have. Possibly inclining the child who does not have to "get it" by any means. Reminds me of the Emperors Clothes, the value we place on them...

I see parents spending hundreds and thousands of dollars for their children to keep up with the latest…clothing and electronics…Are we just a glutton filled consumerist nation as a whole? And does this “Keeping up with the Jones Syndrome” affect the poorer community more than others? It has gotten to the point, schools have had to implement policy changes in what our children wear to school not just for safety, for self esteem…Like my mom told me, “You go to school to learn, not for a fashion show”. Yet she always struggled to not only keep me in the latest, in quality.
Through clothing I realized you are judged...cleanliness, attractiveness, worth etc. Such a shame how the mind generalizes. I find those who are not of the materialistic mentality are those who actually established and not projecting an image of being so. Its about stability and not the glam and glitz of material.

In High School, I seen many die over material, victims of the Jones. Is what we work so hard for worth dying over? In my lifetime, there have been many senseless killings over clothing, sneakers, jewelry throughout the world. Materialism equates to futility and pride to humility, self esteem and self respect. Materialism causes our society to not only harbor and judgments against one another based on clothing. What is that about?

Self respect…self esteem, something the African American community had very few lessons in over the last century. Willie Lychism only fuels the hate we have for one another. Where is the pride? Self love without the cover ups? African Americans as a whole, are taught not to love thy self nor one another. Is materialism a way to cover up these issues? Why so much emphasis on clothing and material? Dealing with internal issues and material as a way to cover up, over compensate for what is lacking or is it to enhance what is already an immaculate untarnished beauty. Keeping up with the Jones, the American Dream or being self conscious?

“Just because you are blind, and unable to see my beauty doesn't mean it does not exist.” ******Margaret Cho

Think about plastic surgery….Are we that vain we would destroy alter or hate what is naturally given. Naturally you...Beauty is skin deep. Anthropology taught me, beauty is what you see, it depends on who you are and where you come from. This world is so vast and beauty is created on many levels in many variations. . Preferences, ideals, and the media shape our ideals of beauty. Some Europeans want to look more ethnic, and those who are ethnic want to be more European. Think about the idea of a tan...How is it some people hate dark people yet they run the very risk of skin cancer, and sun burn to achieve darkness...Botox, and injections to have fuller lips, bigger butts etc to be that of a sister.
So, all this Keeping Up with the Jones, depends on your attitude towards yourself. Materialism fuels insecurities within self. Satisfaction is mindset and starts with self. Its okay not to be able to afford the Neimans, because the outlets work just as good and are much cheaper! :)

"Be what you are. This is the first step toward becoming better than you are."
Julius Charles Hare

Just being who I am fuels my confidence; life is meant to be lived, not for a fashion show.
Shop smarter, not harder.
Be an original. Don’t die a copy!
Fareeda “The Maverick” Mabry

[1] Fashion, Beauty and the African American Consumer (

Saturday, October 10, 2009

RACISM: The Disease that infects us all…

The Disease that infects us all…

Racism, no other disease infects the world more. Not Swine flu, Ebola, Cancer nor HIV/AIDS have infected the world more than the ignorance of racism. Racism since the days of slavery and the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s in its blatancy days is now a silent, subtle and passive/aggressive socially constructed tool used to manipulate, control, exploit and degrade people solely based on the color of someone’s skin.

Born and raised from Philadelphia. Philadelphia is segregated, depending on race, class and political connections. In a world where everything is not just black and white, this disease has infected the entire world. It is races against races of people, and racism with in races. You better not call a Cambodian a Korean, or an African a Haitian, or a Columbian, a Puerto Rican, or someone Bi-Racial something totally absurd, or you are in trouble…People get angry when they are judge, stereotyped, or boxed into a group or category. When people make these honest everyday assumptions it is because we are taught to group and generalize people based on appearances.

True story, I remember being in a meeting, one of two other black people in that same meeting. The lead of the meeting was looking to target and recruit more African American professionals. The lead of the meeting was putting an event together and was looking for some kind of music that would appeal to blacks. He turned to me and asked about a particular group/artist and said, “Do black people like them?” I wanted to say how the hell should I know? I cannot speak on individual preferences. Some of my friends like rock music, and classical, others R and B/Jazz, some Hip/Hop and Rap, and others love Reggae! There is no set of music for people of color. People all over the globe listen to Beyonce, Elton John, and Jay Z, my point, music is universal, why as human beings, are we not as universal!

I was not sure if I should have been upset that he thought because I was black, I would be able to be the spokesperson for all blacks in Philadelphia, or was I a mere political pawn used to recruit more blacks to be the martyr. Or, just to play devils advocate, did ignorance blind the attendees at this meeting and they looked towards me as a leader and someone they needed to assist them in a better understanding on how African Americans think…? I ended up a little shocked, yet as many blacks staring down the face of (perceived or real) racism (blatant or subtle) you silently and gracefully brush it off.

Nelson Mandela

God created the human race, not meant to be a competition among the races. Labels, stereotypes, stigmas and unspoken competition of who is more inferior among races perpetuate the racist mindset. They are ugly because they are darker, they are ugly because they have short hair, or long necks, or even stupid because of their skin. So much emphasis is put on skin, which is lighter or darker. As Justice Blakmum stated, "In order to get beyond racism, we must first take into account of race. There is no other way. And in order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently."

Race is anything but an anomaly. Racism is taught in the homes, schools, and institutions, and is generational. It comes from a lack of understanding of one another and a fear of moving closer to understand. Those same tried true beliefs are not working. Everyone is not going to like you. You cannot help how you are born into the world. You cannot change your color. Racism is meant to make you hate yourself. And what separates us in 2009 is baseless. When do we stop the anger, and start the healing? Stop the ignorance, and start the education? Racism the disease, it’s a mindset, and a form of mind control. My favorite quote from George Orwell, "He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future."
Let us stop this foolishness and embrace all of humanity. Starting with yourself. I cannot see how God loving people can love humanity, yet hate a certain set of humans? You love God, yet hate his creations? That is like having a pretty smile with no teeth, its contradictory! Racism a disease that destroys deteriorates and kills us all. To be a racist is an individual choice. It starts with me and you.

In Solidarity,
Fareeda “TheMaverick” Mabry